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Posts tagged “Red Sea

Sleeping…?

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The Olympics are on. Remember “Cool Runnings?” It’s about the Jamaican bobsled team. “You dead, Sanka?”

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Do fish sleep? I don’t know. I’ve asked if they have eyelids. Do you know? Can you actually sleep without eyelids? Humans must sleep. It’s a fact. What do fish do? At night some become dormant. But do they sleep? No blanket?

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I thought this guy was dead. Or sick? It’s unnatural. You don’t really see horses lying around on their sides. Dogs, and yes, my cats sleep. A lot! I got a few shots. And then to my relief he righted himself and swam off. Sorry to wake you from your nap. You ok?


Distracted

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Pure white is rare to see in the sea. See it below. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Homonyms must be so confusing to non-English speakers. Reading it is easier. But it’s fun to hear. So, I passed this white coral. Pure white. So white, that my camera would not expose properly. Too much dynamic range. I bet you care? The brightness exceeded the camera’s ability to expose properly. There, I bet you were wondering. Well, the point of it all is that I wanted to shoot white. Shoot? Remember? Everything has this gray green cast. Lots of dead stuff. Like the floor of the forest. It’s brown drab. Fall leaves are such a good photo op. Afterwards there is nothing much photogenic in brown leaves. White is not natural. Dirt, grime, all that stuff you know, there’s no reason to remain pure white. Entropy! Chaos! Randomness!

Ok? So I was concentrating and adjusting the focus and exposure. I never did get the good shot I envisioned. It was the end of the dive. We were in our decompression stop – three minutes. Hover. And turn off your mind and camera till you are done and emerge. As I shot my camera was bumped. Not once, twice, and again. There! A fish decided to have a “human encounter.” Really! Yup. It was a dream photo op! And I had all the wrong settings. I was shooting “white!” Dammit! He came around again. It’s always a “he” when they are curious and aggressive? Eggs? Young? Nope. But we had an encounter. I was too close! Can’t focus in close. I back pedaled. Yeah, fins and all, I was backing off. Gotcha! If you don’t understand how rare this is and how hard it was too get, it’s ok. I’m telling you. Ho hum, just another interesting encounter. But it was five star in my book. Never turn off your camera until you are out of the water.


Details – Fine

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Macro. It’s what they call it. Macro means large to me. It is counterintuitive to me. But the art or style is to get the details. And believe me the details are often not obvious on first look.

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Red coral has hair – like the fine hair on your arm. Not obvious. I don’t know what the purpose is. I don’t see the hairs on most coral.

Horns – rhinopores. The yellow orange are pretty obvious. And the serrations are a new discovery since I now get magnified views with my super macro lens. The black and white – gee! – I didn’t know there were rhinopores for three years. There is a front and back! Damn! Starfish – fine details – it was out because the water was so murky the starfish was fooled into thinking it was dark. This is stuff that I simply never appreciated till I started macro photography. Neat!


Parasite

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I’m getting new glasses. My dive buddy has super vision. He gestured, pointed, and then swiped my camera. He saw this not once but twice. Gee! The fish is tiny! It is simply hard to see without magnification. Ok! And then look! Yeah, I mean you have to enlarge this. There is a parasite. That’s what he called it. It’s got a head and a couple protrusions hanging off the fish. Yes! Really. You should be suitably impressed. I am a photographer. Amateur! It’s great to learn new tricks. I kind of think that glasses will not improve my observation. I bow to super-vision.

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There is no reference scale for comparison. The eye would be about twice the size of the period at the end of this sentence. How’s that? Small? So the parasite? Well, my buddy told me it was there. And my computer sees it. Up until that moment, I could not see it. Yeah, tiny!


Fish!

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Blennies like to hide in holes. In this case the hideout is an abandoned pipe. He’s brave in the tube. He boldly challenged us when we moved in for a shot. Amr shot the profile and I moved in from the front.You can see the teeth in his shots!

My shots would not focus. I don’t know why. It is a function of the diver and his gear. That would be me. I did get a serviceable shot. But the deal it to get a good shot. How is it that the good shot is usually the last one you shoot? In this case, no, I never did get the shot I wanted. When you dive with a buddy you are at the mercy of his patience. Amr is patient. But I’m OCD. Sometime you have to settle. I’m better than I once was and not as good as I’m gonna be…

IMG_0459It’s been a while since I did fish. The past couple weekends the waves were too rough to safely enter the water to dive. And everyone agrees, safety first.


Turtle Encounter – Magic!

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Magical! There are a few events in this very exclusive category. David had just learned to dive. Jules had just joined us. We were pretty much alone underwater. Weekdays here are empty. Just the three of us and the fishies. Omar from the last time, had shown us a nice cleft in the coral. It was idyllic and picturesque like swimming into a canyon. And with nothing but bubbles to hear, it was so calm and peaceful. Jules went into the gap first. Dave was middle and I followed. It’s like snow skiing. You keep the new guy in the middle and I watch for trouble. Jules, the one in front, blazes that path.

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Suddenly Jules pulled up straight as though she’d hit a wall. Dave veered to the side. There! Right in front of us! A turtle just sort of sitting on the coral. Really! It was as though it was sunning itself. Yeah, it was a special moment We all got pictures, And Dave got video. And to this day I do not know if we all realize how special a moment we shared together. It had passed so quickly. Bittersweet. I can savor it in retrospect. It can never be repeated.

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The kids never got along too well as they got older. But they stick together when they are nervous. After all, family is family. Holding hands? I thought it was touching. Jules was assuring Dave that he would be safe from me. I had and have a tendency to underestimate danger. Everyone still has their limbs…. But there was this sign at the ski resort that warned – “Are you an expert? You’d better be!” – as the kids skied under it. Good thing Jules was too small to read and comprehend till much later. But no, I’m mostly safe…. This image was daytime. I persuaded them to go on a night dive. Shhhhh..Dave had not even gotten his open water card. Yes, that was also touching to see both kids swimming, holding hands tight, and swinging their flashlights everywhere to see and ward off sea monsters. It was exhilarating but probably too much to ask my kids at that time. But hell! It was pretty magical too!

 


No Diving

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Look closely and you see the reef exposed. Nothing is ever canceled for weather. There is no weather except hot and sunny. Ok, two things happen, rain and sandstorms. These hardly ever happen. It rained one day last year. It was not a dive day. And sandstorms of the Laurence of Arabia type are a rarity too. But sandstorms do happen. We had one the past few days. It merely obscured vision like a fog. So the buildings on the horizon were sepia toned and a bit fuzzy. But the winds push the seas and that makes waves. That’s good for surfers. But it does not allow divers to enter the water safely. And, it makes it hazardous to get back out of the water. Got it?

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Today was a sandstorm day. The waves were noticeable. And then they were hazardous. Several expert divers had problems emerging. And others had to be pulled out of the water with assistance. My dive buddy and guru shook his head. He was convinced it was not safe. It not diving for fun if the risk is greater. Normally the water is covering the reef nicely. And the waves do not pull you back out. Notice too, that the adjacent resort is not closed. Divers are on the stairs. Risk is relative. I saw two of the dive staff dive in to save some swimmers. I’m good. I’d like to have challenged the conditions. But, as my kids would disapprove, I listened to the little voice in my head. I’ll try tomorrow. Today this picture will suffice to remind me that it’s better to be lucky than good.


Nature

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I dive to see the fish (in the sea). I take pictures. Hey! It’s what I do for fun now. Some people like watching paint dry. I don’t watch golf. I played tennis. They told me there are golf courses in Jeddah. Imagine that?! Too hot!

The flip side – go to a fish market and they have displays with untold numbers of squid and octopus. It’s a very big part of the seven fishes feast at Christmas for Italian Americans. I heard about this for years from Ginny.

I will insert an aside – non sequitur – but sort of related. When I was a kid, my dad came home with a live carp. How? He, like many Chinese, love fresh fish. How? He brought it home from the market in paper and it was still alive. How? He put it into the bathtub and it swam. Ah! No more baths for me…ever! I tell you, that was exactly my thought process in that moment. A bit later he slaughtered that fish. Yes, he cut off its head and I saw blood and the tail flopping. I was changed forever. And that memory sits burning brightly. I also realized that baths would resume shortly after.

When I learned to dive, I quickly found out that seeing octopi is rare. They do not congregate. They are very shy and solitary. Which translates – they are hard to see and harder to photograph – if you see them in the first place.

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Ah! I was early to the resort. I was meeting some other divers. There are tourists in the water. And! Whoa! One caught an octopus bare handed. I moved in for a photograph. No problem. Then… he strangled it in his bare hands! It turned all colors and tried to camouflage itself till it died and reverted to plain brown. The killer left it in the Styrofoam cooler with life juices on the bottom while he sought other prey.

Yeah, I was stunned. If I had to slaughter my own cow, for sure I’d be a vegetarian… It was pretty graphic to watch him kill dinner in front of me.


Fish – Underwater

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Ah! No secret! And you figured this was coming. An excuse to post dive shots! Free divers – their name – it means no scuba. Scuba – self-contained underwater apparatus – you knew that, right? I started very basic. I have a good camera. Nope! It’s not going underwater. It would break my heart to wreck it with saltwater. Be sure that at some point every camera has some saltwater.

It’s not good. I have personally fried a couple cameras before I learned to dive. I have a healthy respect for watertight. It’s very hard to do. And it’s easy. I see other divers casually treat their stuff. And I watched a poor guy fry his iPhone. Yup, dead. It was pretty funny watching him try to revive it. No, rice did not work.

It was about as funny as watching my kids when they each respectively dropped their cellphone into the toilet. Now ask yourself, how was it so, that I was there when it happened to each of them at different times? Yup. Timing! There’s a story. And so I bought insurance for each phone. And it cost ?$99. And I used it once. Yes, one kids had another water accident. And I denied it fell in water. And after the accounting, it was break even. The cost of insurance was the same as the phone.

That happened with my last Volvo. I got the extended warranty. $1500. And wouldn’t you know it. Nada! Till… the alternator went. Interesting. The car died just outside a McD’s in Maine. And wouldn’t you know it! There was a Sears down the block. Towed – AAA – first time I used that insurance too. But no, it was the alternator. New battery died at the intersection a few days later. The new alternator cost $1500 – break even. No, I do not buy extended warranty any more.

So, the free divers wear camo – and they are elegant looking. The purpose is to dive to reach depth on one breath and surface again. Not too interesting a process, but they call it fun. Long fins, a small weight belt, a snorkel. They hang weights off a rope and go up and down. I’m good in my gear and tank and one hour ticket to see the fishies.

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There are things to see! One instructor kindly pointed into the blue. A school of fish approached. If it is the first time to see this, you should be duly impressed. It is a nightmare. With open mouths, it looks like they are on the hunt and you are the meal in their sights. Yeah! They swam around us. And then left. I got a few shots. The behavior? Beats the heck out of me. I was there. I have seen it again. I see these fish all the time when they are not exhibiting this behavior. But once in a while they school and swim with their mouths open. And it is impressive. Really! You don’t see this every day. And yes, I’m still impressed when they do this. Fierce! If you can see, they just have their mouths open. The gills are spread wide. There’s nothing. It’s the classic “Bark worse than your bite!” I’m suitably impressed – I told you, right?


Roar

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If you look closely, real close, it has the face of a lion. Now I did not notice this before. But then again I don’t get very close to boxer shrimp. I would, but, they don’t let me. Not enough interest to be a meal. And I don’t much like shrimp too much. They have lone antennae. Way long! Really long! Long enough that I don’t try to show you the whole antenna or the shrimp would be too small in the picture. And if you get in close, here’s what I noticed. It looks like four antennae are sprouting. And the eyes are small. So, perhaps, that is why the antennae as a warning sign. And then the face. “It’s a face only a mother could love.” It has nothing redeeming except that if I were designing a horror movie mask, I would start here. Oh, three claws on the one side. Smaller ones. Functional? The details I see as I get closer and closer… I learn something new all the time. It’s really nice to keep finding out new things. But if I had the six lottery numbers….


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